A new video from the Together Women Can initiative—launched by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as a companion campaign to her feminist book Lean In—calls on all women to stand in solidarity with one another and #LeanInTogether.
In the video, successful women share stories about the women who impacted their careers and lives, challenging the notion that women must compete against one another in order to succeed. The video and the larger Together Women Can initiative show that when women support one another, everyone benefits.
Sandberg’s book inspired women to be ambitious in their careers and gave them advice on how to overcome systemic workplace barriers related to gender and sex. From a young age, women are taught not to be ambitious, aggressive or persistent in their careers—and they’re told that they will eventually have to give up for marriage and children. Sandberg’s book candidly discussed the challenges and solutions she found to workplace sexism, including the barriers she faced through her own pregnancy, while climbing the corporate ladder. Lean In shifted the focus on workplace discrimination away from what women can’t have or achieve in their professional lives to all that they can do when they work together.
The #LeanInTogether campaign marks the next step in creating this kind of powerful transformation for career women fighting for a fair shot in the workplace. In addition to sharing stories, videos and messages of thanks to the women who have supported them, the campaign website features helpful tips and connects women to groups that put the ideals of Lean In into practice. The Together We Can initiative and the Lean In movement seek to reach the goal of lifting women up at work through monthly circles—small discussion groups in which women who work together strengthen and embolden one another. Participants choose to be Workplace Allies, Mentors, Positive Peers or Role Models for Girls.
Lena Dunham wrote for Lenny about how Sheryl Sandberg helped her “to stop thinking of myself as indebted to everyone who had ever smiled at me and to start thinking of myself as an asset.” In an interview between Dunham and Sandberg that followed, Sandberg discussed the higher standards women are held to at work in terms of always being kind and broke down the sexist notion of the “cat-fight” that rears its head when they don’t meet that ideal. She also called on leaders across sectors to be cognizant of how their interpretation of women’s behaviors at work are shaped by systemic gender bias and shift their understanding of how to overcome it:
We have to correct for the biases women face. You shouldn’t feel obligated to support a woman because she is a woman, but because you believe in her ideas and capabilities. It’s the right thing to do, and it creates a work environment that is better for everyone.
This new campaign is one more important push to shatter stereotypes that hold women back at work. You don’t need to wait until your next circle meeting to get into it, though: You can thank another woman and share your own story on Twitter or other social media sites at any time using the hashtag #LeanInTogether.